• Virginia Krohn


To Retire Or Invest In This Beautiful Caribbean Nation

From an article in the Huffington Post

Kathleen Peddicord, Contributor

Publisher, Live and Invest Overseas

For me, it was love at first sight. From the first morning I arrived in Belize, nearly 30 years ago, climbed down from the plane onto the runway, threw my backpack over my shoulder, pulled on my sunglasses, and walked across the tarmac in the direction of the one-room Belize City airport, I was smitten. It was nothing I could put my finger on at the time. Just a feeling, like falling in love. You know it when it hits.

Belize City is referred to as the Calcutta of the Caribbean... a hell hole... a slum town. Those descriptions are not undeserved, but they refer not to Belize but Belize City and not to the heart and soul of this country but to the face of the town where, unfortunately, its international airport happens to be located.

Smitten as I was by the experience of being in Belize, even I, young and naïve as I was, recognized that Belize City wasn’t a nice place to be 30 years ago. This hasn’t changed, but it didn’t matter to me then and isn’t the point now. What won me over from that first visit was the simple, sweet charm and the raw, natural beauty of this country, which I sensed straightaway. On that first visit, I met a handful of Belize expats with whom, over the years, I’ve developed friendships I treasure. Visit by visit, in the years to follow, they helped me to get to know this country founded by pirates and where independence and free thinking are prized above all else.

These are qualities that I, too, value a great deal. Instinctively, I guess, putting my feet on the ground in this country for the first time, I knew that Belize and I were made for each other. Belize is the quirkiest place I know. Belize City’s roadways are built around a system of roundabouts (thanks to her British colonizers), but shops alongside them sell rice, beans, and tortillas still ground by hand. Everyone you meet speaks English (it’s the country’s official language), but this belies the stories of their origins. The 350,000 people populating Belize today are descendants of migrants from Britain, yes, but also and more so the surrounding Central American countries. You’ve got Mexicans, Guatemalans, Hondurans, and Nicaraguans mixing with current-day generations of the Maya who originally inhabited this land, the pirates who came later, the Mennonite farmers who began arriving on the scene in the 16th century, the British who ruled until 1981, and each other.

Belize is a country of freedom-seekers. The pirates came to ply their pirate trading out of view. The Mennonites came from Germany and the Netherlands so they could be Mennonites without anyone bothering them. The British came so they could bank in private. And the folks from the surrounding countries who’ve sought out Belize over the past few decades typically have made their way across this country’s borders in search of safety. Today, now, a new population of freedom-seekers is finding its way to these shores: Us. Belize is a nation of independent thinkers and doers, a country where you make your own way and where, while you’re doing it, no one is making any attempt to thwart your efforts. Including the Belizean government. This is a poor country. The government doesn’t have enough money to get up to any real trouble. And, if they tried, the Belizeans wouldn’t allow it. The focus here is on very local-level government—addressing the crime problems in certain neighborhoods of Belize City, for example, or trying to dissuade the Guatemalan banditos who occasionally wander over into Belize in search of a couple of good horses to steal.

Check Your Worries At The Border Arriving in Belize, stepping off the plane, and making your way to the one-room arrivals hall of the airport, you have a sense still today, just as I did 30 years ago touching down in Belize for the first time, of leaving the rest of the world behind. Belize and her people operate according to their own rules and mind their own business. The troubles, uncertainties, and worries that seem all-consuming Stateside and elsewhere in the world fade here. You’re faced with a land that remains a frontier, undeveloped and therefore oozing with potential. Remember, this is also a tax haven, a place where your financial affairs are your own, and one of the best places in the world today to open an offshore bank account. Both these things are courtesy of the British, who created in Belize an offshore haven for themselves that we all can benefit from today.

Belize is one more thing — one of the most user-friendly options for establishing foreign residency. You don’t have to be physically present year-round in the country to qualify for permanent residency and to take advantage of the tax benefits of that status. Come to visit for as few as four weeks a year, and you’re good.

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